Organizing Your Workday – High School Style

Organizing Your Workday – High School Style


Remember high school when you had eight periods and at the end of each period the bell would ring?  Then you would get up and have ten minutes until your next class.  Remember?? I do, and sometimes I think about how efficient that system was.  Think about it….In 50 minutes (or however long a class was) a teacher would plan out exactly what they could do in that time period and by the end of the period chances are the students’ attention for that particular subject was at its end and the teaching for that day would be done. If something didn’t get finished, it might wait til the next day, or the students might take it with them to finish later in study hall perhaps. When you think about it, this is really not a bad way to work things – even in the workplace.

So I have tried this. When I sit down in the morning, I will set a timer for about 45 minutes. During that time period, I will work on one specific thing. For the first part of the morning I might focus specifically on getting through my e-mails and setting the schedule/focus for the rest of the day. Then when I am done and the timer rings, I will get up and stretch my legs, or reheat my coffee. I might see how much of my house I can pick up in those few minutes (and I usually surprise myself with how much I get done.)  Then, when I sit back down to work, I focus on sourcing from a particular tool for the next 45 minutes. I won’t check my e-mail during this time and chances are if someone IM’s me I might not answer them until I finish this task (IM is so rude, isn’t it?) Then, when I am towards the end of this time period and I feel good about my progress, I will respond to new IM’s or E-mails or voicemail. I love how much I get done using this method.  Having this type of structure in my day creates a ton of efficiencies that I didn’t have before I organized my time into periods of sorts, and gave myself periodic breaks. I find that when I come back and focus on my new “subject,” I am refreshed and get a lot more done!

This is also a great way to empower yourself with control over your day. I feel more in charge of my day and my calendar by doing this. I don’t let constant IM’s or e-mail take me off focus (unless it’s something urgent that truly can’t wait.) Now granted, not everyone can structure their ENTIRE day like this, but maybe you can set a few hours up where you are completely focused on a particular task with no interruptions and end with a small break or reward. Too often, people let others control their time with constant demands (haven’t we become a rude society with IM’s or phone calls being so intrusive?) Even if you are in a role that is customer service oriented you should try this for just a small part of your day. Wouldn’t it feel great to have more control over at least a portion of your time?

What are your thoughts on doing this? Have you ever tried organizing your day like this?

Becki Jacobs is a lead technical recruiter for one of the largest IT companies in the world.  She has an MBA with a focus in HR Management along with over 15 years of experience in HR and Recruiting.  Previous to her current role she spent 8 years as a top performing recruiter for a professional staffing company where she recruited for companies such as Xerox, Johnson and Johnson, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and EDS.

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  1. I love this idea! I find that setting a timer helps a lot with focus, especially when I’m working on something that’s not so fun. No breaks until the timer goes off!

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